Published: Tuesday 15 October 1996

It was an experiment to clear the air in polluted Sao Paulo, South America's biggest city, so as to allow Paulistanos breathe more easily. Motorists, depending on the last digit of the licence plate, were asked to leave their cars at home for one working day of the week in the month of August. The organisers of the scheme, Cetesb, the state environment agency, claimed that pollution fell by an average 14 per cent. But last month, pollution was back with a vengeance. Relatively free roads, which were marked by the absence of traffic jams, have become scenes of chaos and fumes yet again.

The experiment, however, was not received well by the motorists. Said Fernando Pinheiro Pedro of the environment commission at the Brazilian lawyers association, "This is eco-fascism. The state government is using pyrotechnics as cover for its incapacity to deal with the problem properly". Cetesb's staff association also observed that the pollution statistics provided by the agency was incorrect as the scheme exempted old diesel trucks and buses, the main culprits of air pollution.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.